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When might Peak Oil happen?

Nobody knows for sure. Some believe it will happen in 20 years, some in 5 years, some that we have already reached the halfway point. But the evidence is pointing towards sooner rather than later.

Shrinking oil supplies, geography and politics

The world's first large oil fields were discovered in the USA. It was a major factor in how the USA became so rich and powerful in the early 20th century, by suppling oil to Europe and the world. But American oil wells hit their half way points in the 1960's and have shrunk ever since, making the US and Europe increasingly reliant on imported oil.

Today, the largest supplies of oil are in the Middle East and are controlled by a group of countries known as OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries). Many of these countries are opposed to the policies and governments of Europe and the USA.

What happens when there's not enough to go round?

When the oil starts to run out, it is likely that the wells in non-OPEC countries will empty first. This will give ever more political power to those countries who control the remaining supplies.

Some fear that, unless alternatives to oil are found in time, this situation could lead to wars over the remaining oil.

Next: Case study: Cuba - a country where Peak Oil has already happened 


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Are oil and politics that closely connected?

Look at this graph and decide for yourself.